24 August 2011

the mary-kate philosophy

Recently, I conducted another little social experiment, this time involving a very dear friend of mine. This lovely girl, who shall be henceforth referred to as Subject H, is notoriously bad at textual communication. To make plans with her required me to actively seek out her current situation, then call her to make sure she was awake during our specified meeting time. No spontaneity with this one.

It started innocently enough. I wanted to talk to my friend. But as I became frustrated with my uninterrupted string of displayed text messages on my phone, the researcher in me emerged with a diabolical plan.

Since we have been separated since the end of last semester, I decided that I would test what exactly I would have to text to her to illicit a response or, god willing, a conversation.

I began with simple texts, nothing too serious, that said something along the lines of “hello how are you I miss you,” except less desperate and more friendly. Subject H responded rather infrequently, and when she did, her texts were often mono or disyllabic. None of these warranted the response for which I had hoped (a conversation with a friend).

I then took the next logical step and upped the ante. I texted increasingly outlandish things to receive some sort of validation. I referenced inside jokes, made comments with which I was sure Subject H would agree with my opinion, and emphasized how much I value her as a friend.

What finally caught her attention was this text, verbatim: “there’s a smudged spider carcass on the ceiling of my bathroom. i left it there as a warning to the others.”

This carefully crafted narrative was perfect in ways that I only realized after the fact. Yes, it was crazy. But it was also true. This text message contained enough normalcy to be plausible, but it was also riddled with a wtf factor that was as undeniable as it was alluring.

Which brings me to the title of this post.

If you know me, then it’s possible you are aware of my unhealthy obsession with Mary-Kate Olsen. Yes, I’ve seen her various film and television projects, I’ve lusted after her clothing lines, and follow a few fashion blogs devoted to her sartorial choices.

After conducting this little experiment, it occurred to me that that same philosophy applies to other things in life as well. For me, the most apparent example lies in my fascination with MK.

Sure, her normalcy isn’t quite as obvious. Her upbringing certainly doesn’t help my hypothesis. But she does normal people things: she drinks Starbucks, she goes to the airport, she does yoga. Likewise, her clothes are fundamentally normal: pants, shirts, heels. But she also has that wtf factor that makes me ever so curious. Why is her coffee so comically large? Why are there so many superfluous layers on such a small frame? Why would she decide to wear six-inch heels on a flight?

The reason why MK stands out in my mind is that she’s not completely normal, but also not completely batshit. She straddles the line, and sometimes errs on the latter side, but she isn’t on either extreme. She doesn't seem to be dressing like a crazy person so that other people with notice how alternative she is. She looks to me like she genuinely enjoys herself, which makes her all the more compelling. I look forward to what she comes up with next, with the hope that she will remain creative to satisfy herself and not just to be crazy for crazy's sake.

It is for this reason that my spider text sparked a conversation. It wasn’t a mundane catch-up, but it also wasn’t a plot to murder someone or something else equally insane. It was a true story with a hint of lunacy that was interesting enough to start a dialogue, but not so extreme that it was inaccessible as a starting point for discourse.

It has been nine days since you last texted me. Your move, Subject H. Unless you want me to go all MK on you. I don't mind; I actually kind of like it.

All photos courtesy of Olsens Anonymous (not so anonymous anymore).


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